The awards, which are organised by Variety, the children’s charity, shine the spotlight on the world class businesses and people who bang the drum for Yorkshire. The event, which was held at The Queens Hotel in Leeds, included an interview on the stage with Variety Young Ambassador Hayley Cassin, who is 11-years-old.
Hayley was born at 28 weeks, weighing just 2lbs. She had meningitis at five days old and was placed on life support for a long time. At five months’ old, she was diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy. But she hasn’t allowed this to hold her back. Her life was transformed when she joined a wheelchair basketball club.
Hayley told the audience: “When I play basketball I feel unstoppable. I’m not disabled, I’m just differently abled.”
Variety has funded Hayley’s new lightweight sports wheelchair, which enables her to go even faster.
Hayley said: “I’m excited to become a Variety Young Ambassador. If I could have just one wish it’s for all children to have the best life they could have.”
Also honoured was Tony Foulds, who along with rugby legend Jason Robinson, received the Bobbie Caplin OBE Yorkshire Legend Award.
At eight-years-old Mr Foulds witnessed a B-17 Flying Fortress, Mi Amigo, crash in Sheffield. The badly damaged aircraft was returning from a wartime bombing raid over Europe. The plane saw a large playing field which was perfect for landing.
But when the pilot saw Tony and his friends playing in the field, he decided to circle, waving for the children to move. As the plane flew further away, in order to protect the children, its engine failed. The plane crashed and exploded.
For more than 50 years, Mr Foulds has looked after the memorial to the plane crew who sacrificed their lives to save his own. He spends up to six days a week looking after the memorial.
Mr Foulds told The Yorkshire Post: “The youngest member of the crew was 19. The oldest was 24. I look after the memorial and ensure it is the best in this country.”
Jason Robinson, who scored a try which helped England win the Rugby Union World Cup in 2003, said he was honoured to receive an award.
He added: “One of the things I learned from an early age was to work hard.”
The Business leader of the year award went to Frank Hester of Leeds-based TPP, the healthcare technology company.
Mr Hester recalled how his love of reading books from his local library had helped to provide him with confidence and knowledge.
He said Yorkshire “needed to be more confident - Our IT is rolling out around the world.”
The board of the year trophy went to Croda, the chemicals firm, which is based in East Yorkshire. The SME of the year was Sewtec, the industrial automation specialist and the standout small business award was presented to rradar, the specialist litigation and commercial law firm.
The awards’ sponsors were Yorkshire Bank, The Yorkshire Post, Deloitte, Rothschild & Co, LNER, Ideas That Work, Black Sheep Brewery, Clarion, Henderson Insurance Brokers, Leeds Beckett Enterprise Services, Pomanda and Core Telecom.
Variety Yorkshire is the most successful region outside London, said Mark Brady, the chairman of the Yorkshire Business Awards.
Mr Brady added: “Over the last 32 years we have raised over £3m which is a staggering amount and it has made a real and tangible difference to the sick, disabled and disadvantaged children in our region.”
The 420 guest who gathered at The Queens Hotel in Leeds raised at least £120,000 for the charity.
The keynote speaker was the author and investigative journalist Tom Bower.